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Moving Borders: The Aesthetics of Migration

A Postgraduate Research Day at UCL

*** organised by Dr Federica Mazzarra ***

Monday, 31 March 2008, 9.45am-4pm
followed by a free screening of L'Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, a film by Agostino Ferrente (2006), more ...

The Pearson Lecture Theatre,
University College London,
Gower Street.
London WC1E 6BT

(Registration from 9.15am)

full programme (pdf format) | poster (pdf format)

campus map
(pdf format) | location of UCL (web page)

Migration, or the condition of being a subject beyond borders, has always represented one of the most productive resources of aesthetic practices, contributing to the changing of settled cultures.

This Research Day focuses on the issue of migration from very different perspectives, in order to explore what Mieke Bal has recently defined as “migratory aesthetics”, that is “the current cultural and aesthetic moment in view of the merging of cultures”.

The papers to be presented here consider a wide range of cultural practices, such as literature, film, performance and, of course, a range of spaces in which migration has produced cultural “clashes”. We are thinking here of real spaces such as cities, museums, squares, bars, clubs and virtual spaces, such as the World Wide Web.

This one-day conference is set to provide a forum for the consideration of the aesthetic dimension of migration.

Papers

A Look at the City of Rome: The ‘Esquilino’ Quarter
Monia Acciari (University of Manchester)
[ abstract and biography ]

"Fictional belonging": Can Law Cope with Cultural Dynamism?
Meena Bhamra (UCL)
[ abstract and biography ]

Colonialism And Postcolonialism In Libya: Jewish Italian Writers in Tripoli
Daniele Comberiati (Université Libre De Bruxelles)
[ abstract and biography ]

Between Two Shores: Migration As A Double Absence
Isabel Hollis (King’s College London)
[ abstract and biography ]

(De-)Constructing a “Cosmopolitan” Manchester: Haptic Spaces, Embodied Visuality, and Aesthetics
Alpesh Patel (University of Manchester)
[ abstract and biography ]

The Politics of Parody: Online Diasporic Iranian Satire
Sanaz Raji (SOAS, London)
[ abstract and biography ]

Registration

Advanced registration will be very much appreciated to help with the admnsitration of the event. There will be a nominal charge of £3 to cover expenses, payable on the day.

To reserve a place at this study day, or for more information, please email the organiser, Dr Federica Mazzara, (more ...), before Tuesday 18 March 2008, < f.mazzara@ucl.ac.uk >.

Morning and afternoon refreshements will be provided, but attendees wil be responsible for their own lunch. However the the local Bloomsbury area and UCL are well served with places to eat.

Abstracts and Biographies

A look at the city of Rome: The ‘Esquilino’ Quarter
Monia Acciari (University of Manchester)

Abstract: The purpose of this paper resides in exploring the presence of Bollywood within Italian visual culture, identifying concepts of filmic space(s) and space(s) of Bollywood within the Italian territory. The historical and sociological map of Indian Diaspora in Italy is being charted by focusing on the Esquilino quarter, benchmarked as the `multiethnic area of Rome' par excellence. The premise of my work begins by observing the Esquilino not only as a constructed space, but also as an ‘experienced’ space (employing the Henri Lefebvre’s theory of Spaces) by new ‘imagined communities’ as per Benedict Anderson’s definition.

The purpose of this conversation on the Esquilino is to highlight how the ‘urbaneness’ of the quarter has changed with new non-autochthon settlements and particularly emphasising how the presence of Asian and South Asian communities have re-dressed the Esquilino as un unicum; people, cultures, emotions and performances (as Bollywood) are the features of a plural/cultural entity: the ‘Urban-Stage’ viz. the Urbis .

Biography: Monia Acciari is currently working towards the completion of her PhD at the University of Manchester with a thesis which analyses the impact of Popular Indian Cinema within the Italian visual culture. She graduated with distinction in Film and communication studies at the Universitá degli Studi di Bologna in Italy within the D.A.M.S. department. She has completed her Masters at the I.E.D. in Milan in New Media. She is collaborating with Radio Cinema to be the curator of a forthcoming Radio Program on Bollywood Music, which will be broadcasted in Italy ( www.radiocinema.it ). She is currently working on a project for a book in Italian, titled: Lente su Bollywood. Generi, Linguaggi, Visioni. (Lens on Bollywood. Genres, Languages and Visions, going to be published by the Castoro Cinema Editore). The book will have a non-historical approach to the Popular Indian culture which will open new ‘reading’, within the Italian panorama, of this overwhelming phenomenon.

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"Fictional Belonging": Can Law Cope with Cultural Dynamism?
Meena Bhamra (UCL)

Abstract: In this paper I look into the conflict between the demand for certainty of definitions within legal arenas, and interpretations of culture as dynamic and evolutionary. I take examples from the day-to-day lives of Britain’s post-war migrants to illustrate the dichotomy between cultural practices as they actually occur, and the notion that they are “our own” cultures. I argue that the idea that we have “our own” cultures is often a fiction, and that this statement is a claim influenced by a need to protect practices or freedoms that are perceived to be under threat. In the final section of this paper I consider how well law, and in particular theories of justice, have coped with this dynamism, and ask whether they in fact have the capacity or potential to cope with such uncertainty and intangible concepts.

Biography: Meena Bhamra took an undergraduate degree in Law at St. John’s College, Cambridge University, going on to practice as a solicitor at Herbert Smith, in London. She took her Masters in Public Law at the School of Oriental Studies, writing a dissertation on religious minorities and English Law. She is now a Doctoral candidate and Bonnart-Braunthal Scholar at University College London, writing a thesis on the implications of diversity for British Constitutional Law. She lectures in Ethnic Minorities and the Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

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Colonialism And Postcolonialism In Libya: Jewish Italian Writers in Tripoli
Daniele Comberiati (Université Libre De Bruxelles)

Abstract: In 1912 Italy conquered and colonized Libya, in the south of Mediterranean Sea. Tripoli was the symbol of this colonization: this city represented, together with Asmara, the place where the Italian influence was more evident. A big Jewish community lived in Tripoli, moving there after the Second War until 1969, when Gheddafi expelled it. Some writers from this community are Italians and use Italian language for their novels, such as Arthur Journo, Victor Magiar and David Gerbi, describing the multi-ethnic Tripoli in the postcolonial age and the life of the Italian Jewish community. At a symbolic level, this double identity enriches the concept of “being Italian” and complicates the relationship between colonizer and colonized. The Judaism becomes a metaphor for an infinite Diaspora, linked to the Italian colonialism, to the Racial Laws and to the Nazis persecution. Also in the works of Luciana Capretti and Alessandro Spina the role of the Judaism in Libya is very important. They are not Hebrews but they represented in their novels the Italian Jewish community of Tripoli as a symbol of “being different” and “being other”. Through the investigation of these writers’ novels, this paper aims at understanding some important moments of the twentieth-century Italian history: the colonialism and the racism, the Fascism and the Post-war period.

Biography: Daniele Comberiati was born in Rome. He is a doctoral student at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) researching Italophone migrant literatures. He is contributing to graduate level courses on refugee studies in the Department of Sociology at the University of La Sapienza, in Rome, and also in the Department of Comparative Literature at ULB.

In June 2007, he published La quarta sponda. Scrittrici in viaggio dall’Africa coloniale all’Italia di oggi (published by Edizioni Pigrego), a book of interviews with Italophone post-colonial female authors,.

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Between Two Shores: Migration As A Double Absence
Isabel Hollis (King’s College London)

Abstract: This paper will discuss the work of Algerian sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad, and how his theories on migration may be explored with regards to Elisabeth Leuvrey’s film La Traversée. Sayad worked with Algerian migrants to France, reaching an understanding of their experience through extensive interviews. Leuvrey’s film is also based on interviews, all of which take place on the boat between Marseille and Algiers, where the majority of passengers are migrant workers travelling between Algeria and France.

The paper will explain Sayad’s notion of migration as a ‘double absence’, showing how the migrant feels a physical absence from their country of origin, and how their experience as a migrant may mark them as an outsider when visiting home, perpetuating this absence. Meanwhile in the country of migration (in this case France) the migrant is perceived according to his country of origin, and is consequently marked as different, once again an outsider. The paper will then consider how in La Traversée this experience of double absence is shared, and how the boat becomes a space of belonging due to this shared experience, with the migrant describing himself as a sailor. The sea crossing is therefore a time in which sentiments of absence disperse.

Biography: Isabel Hollis studied her undergraduate degree at the University of Saint Andrews. She then moved to London to take a Masters in Cultural Memory at the IGRS, continuing on from there to work on a PhD at King's College London. Her PhD is entitled 'Forgotten pasts, invisibility and the French approach to integration', and looks at French integration politics and divided identities in migration. She is currently researching in France and teaching at Paris 1.

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(De-)Constructing a “Cosmopolitan” Manchester: Haptic Spaces, Embodied Visuality, and Aesthetics
Alpesh Patel (University of Manchester)

Abstract: I consider the role that two of the city of Manchester’s (UK) most well-trafficked spaces have played in the shift of the city’s official image from "working class" and "industrial" to what the city’s official marketing materials describe as “cosmopolitan”: Curry Mile, named for its large number of South Asian restaurants and shops, and Canal Street, the epicenter of Manchester’s “Gay Village,” an area of gay clubs and bars. I visually analyze ephemera, such as brochures and websites of the city’s official marketing body to understand how the spaces are constructed. I draw on phenomenology, performance studies, aesthetics, postcolonial studies, psychoanalysis, and urban studies to argue that Curry Mile and the Gay Village are "performed" as mutually exclusive—the former as "gay, white, male, and middle-class" and the latter as "'South Asian,' and heteronormative." To understand how spaces are not only “constructed,” but “lived” and “experienced” by subjects—using Henri Lefebvre’s terminology from his Production of Space (1974)—I also consider the websites and fliers of gay and lesbian clubs and bars, as well incorporate my own participatory and multi-sensory observations walking through the spaces of Manchester. Finally, through “Mixing It Up: Queering Curry Mile and Currying Canal Street,” a series of public art projects I produced in the Fall of 2006 in the spaces of Manchester, I theorize the role aesthetics can play in re-imagining/writing/shaping the spaces of Manchester.

Biography: Alpesh Patel is an independent curator and writer. His Arts Council England-funded project, “Mixing It Up: Queering Curry Mile and Currying Canal Street,” was rolled out in six venues in Manchester in the fall of 2007. He is working on a book length project on queer, diasporic subject formation through aesthetics, the basis of his PhD thesis at the University of Manchester. From 1997-2005, he was based in New York City and worked at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among other places. Alpesh received his BA with distinction in History of Art from Yale University.

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The Politics of Parody: Online Diasporic Iranian Satire
Sanaz Raji (SOAS, London)

Abstract: After the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the fallout produced one of the largest mass exoduses of Iranians since the migration of Iranian Zoroastrians (Parsi) to escape mass conversion to Islam once the Sassanid Empire was overthrown by the Arabs. The current migration of Iranians has produced a Diaspora, with large communities of Iranians living in North America and Western Europe. Because of the vastness of this Diaspora, Iranians have turned to the Internet, both in Iran and within the Diaspora to receive up-to-the minute news about events in Iran. For 1.5 and second generation Iranians, the Internet has become a popular area for posting articles on culture, politics, and issues regarding identity. This article will examine the current use of the Internet to create alternative discourse through the use of computer-mediated communications (CMC) to present satirical humour. The use of digitally-altered or photoshopped images, have allowed 1.5 and second generation of Diasporic Iranians to present “unspeakable” ideas and opinions, some of which would be considered vulgar or impolite in the Iranian or Western context. This article will analyze and compare the events of September 11 th and the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to understand how Diasporic Iranians use digitally-altered photos to express themselves especially where words often cannot produce the range of emotions and as a protest to the stereotypical view that Iranians are devoid of humour and are fist- waving terrorists.

Biography: Sanaz Raji was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, of Iranian parents. She studied at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, graduating with honours with a BA in History and Political Science. She continued her education at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs where she researched the role of women's NGOs and civil society development in Iran. At the University of Pittsburgh, she was granted the Ruth Crawford Mitchell Memorial Award to study in Iran, and conducted her fieldwork at the University of Tehran under the supervision of Dr Hadi Semmati. Currently, Ms Raji is a PhD candidate at SOAS, exploring social/cultural issues among second-generation Iranians in the diaspora and transnational diasporic media networks used by second-generation Iranians.

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Screening: L'Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio

Following the conference (4.30pm-6.30pm) there wil be a free screening of L'Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, a film by Agostino Ferrente (2006), presented in association with Dr Lanfranco Aceti, Communart (more ...) and Dr John Francescutti, AHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at BirkbecK, University of London (more ...).

Read a review

Venue: The New Cinema, Birkbeck College, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1 (five minutes from UCL)

Website of L'Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio | English | Italiano |

 

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This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by [UCL Mellon Admin]

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imag: book cover, Federica  Mazzara

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